With the novel coronavirus being present in the United States for only weeks, it’s appalling that scammers are looking to capitalize on the fear of others to make a profit. But, it’s a reality we are seeing across the nation.
While we often think of scammers preying on the elderly, the reality is that no one is immune from their actions with COVID-19 scams. From social media to telephone calls, text messages and phishing scams, these individuals are trying to take advantage of anyone they can.
Common COVID-19 Scams
Studies report that phishing emails have drastically increased since the start of COVID-19– more than 600%. Used to capitalize on current fears or trends, some of these scams have used coronavirus awareness as a mask to gain individuals’ personal information.
Common messaging revolved around cures to the virus, selling face masks and other protective equipment or investing in a business that was developing a vaccine or helping a charity.
Robocalls are nothing new. But now scammers are using the technology to take advantage of people’s coronavirus fears. Robocallers callers are masking themselves as the Social Security Administration, as well as claiming to have coronavirus testing kits for Medicare recipients. In addition to preying on the elderly, they are also targeting small business owners into buying fake online services.
Right now, so many of us want to do good by others by donating to causes to fight COVID-19. However, scammers know that in the darkest of time, goodwill always tries to shine through. And those scammers are taking advantage of others’ good nature by staging phony charities to support COVID-19 efforts.
Whether it is fake mailers, robocalls, text messages or social media posts, scammers are trying to reach people in every platform, any demographic they can.
As many face unemployment, American families are without health insurance during a global health pandemic. Some may be shopping the marketplace to find insurance for their loved ones. Unfortunately, scammers know this and are preying on these families with fraudulent health healthcare claims.
The FBI reports that scammers are calling individuals and pretending to be government workers requiring a COVID-19 test. The scammer will then take your personal information and use it to their advantage.
Others are offering cures, tests, and vaccines which simply are not readily accessible or in existence yet.
In addition to calling us, you can report these fraudulent activities to the National Center for Disaster Fraud.
Protect Yourself From COVID-19 Scams
It’s hard to know who to trust in this uneasy time. This is why we’ve compiled resources and suggestions for how to protect yourself from COVID-19 scams.
Safety Tips From the Federal Communications Commission
- Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers
- Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or phone.
- Do not trust those who pressure you into an immediate payment or want your personal information.
- Be leary of spoof numbers which are masked to be from numbers you’d answer.
- A government agency will not call to request personal information or money.
- Before you click links sent by friends and family, call them to make sure they were not hacked.
- Research a charity before donating.
I think I’ve been scammed. What can I do?
If you have fallen victim to a COVID-19 scam, we urge you to contact your financial institutions to put a freeze on your accounts. Then, contact us. We are working with lawyers across the nation who can help you at this time.